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Event will highlight e-bike trends in Oregon

Posted by on March 17th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

The Ohm electric-assist bicycle-6.jpg

E-bike powered.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

What’s the latest with electric bikes? Is their popularity growing or is it leveling out? What about the future? Will motorized and pedal-assisted bicycles ever be fully embraced by other road users?

These issues and more will be discussed at an event next month in downtown Portland. The event is being promoted and organized by Drive Oregon, a non-profit trade association that pushes “electric mobility and alternative means of transportation.”

We’ve covered e-bikes for years here on BikePortland. From the local industry that has sprung up around them to the people who credit them for changing their lives, they definitely seem to be gaining traction. That being said, they are still not commonly seen in the bike lanes and their mix of human and motor power makes it hard for them to find a comfortable niche among the existing mix of vehicles on the road.

On April 16th, Drive Oregon has invited Rob Kaplan of Currie Tech to speak and lead a discussion on e-bikes. Check out the event description below:

The electric bicycle industry has existed for many years, but now is experiencing significant growth. E-bikes are attracting more consumer interest as a convenient, efficient, and fun method of transportation. Where is the majority of that new demand coming from? What new technologies are being pursued by the industry to further improve the e-bike experience? How does Oregon fit into the picture?

Our April event will feature Rob Kaplan, of Currie Technologies. Currie Tech has been developing and producing high-quality e-bikes since 1997, and has a robust nationwide network of dealerships. Rob will share his perspective on the industry’s growth and future prospects, based on his experience at Currie Tech.

The event is free for Drive Oregon members and $25 for non-members. Wine, beer and light refreshments will be served. You can order tickets online.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Spiffy March 18, 2014 at 8:12 am

    ironically, cost is often a factor deterring people from ebikes, and ebike conventions…

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    • CaptainKarma March 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Exactly, I’d go if it was free. I don’t need to eat. And am interested in e-bikes, but oh well. Guess I’ll do my own research. When I get a round tuit.

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  • Evan March 18, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Sounds like a great event. I have a Currie Tech Zuma model that I love and use for commuting and hauling cargo when I have a heavy load. The initial investment is high, but the functionality unparallelled.

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  • Matthew Rogers March 18, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Superawesome! I’ve got this on my calendar now.

    E-bikes fill an important space and help more folks make the transition out of single-occupancy cars to more appropriately-sized mobility modes. They’re certainly cheaper and easier to maintain/park than a passenger car!

    It’s amazing how big the Oregon electric mobility industry is, and Drive Oregon is bringing some cohesion to promoting and forwarding electric mobility here.

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  • Barbara Stedman March 18, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I actually do see ebikes regularly and in increasing numbers during my commute on Terwilliger. They do make a lot of sense in hilly SW Portland. The steep hills keep a lot of people from biking and shortens the radius the average bicyclist is willing to do with those hills. As I always say, our 20-minute neighborhood is much smaller than on the eastside of Portland.

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  • JEFF BERNARDS March 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I love biking and just biked 4000km across europe. But for transportation, in town, nothing beats an e-bike. More people will be willing to replace their car with an e-bike than a regular bike. It has so much upside. Once you’ve used one, it’s hard to go back, your range of pedal transpotation just tripled. Go e-bikes

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  • Paul Turner March 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I use an E-bike to commute from Troutdale to Marquam Hill and back daily, rain or shine, and I ride up Terwilligar and Campus Drive – no Tram for me – 38 miles round trip. The advantages are obvious, takes an hour+10 minutes from my back door near the Sandy River to my office door which is a good 30-45 minutes better than the best TriMet can do and an hour better than I can do on a non-assisted bike. I leave when I want and I don’t mess with transfers or waiting other than at stop signs and stop lights. Driving the same distance would save me some 15-20 minutes but not having to deal with parking at OHSU, the cost of gas, and rush hour traffic made the e-bike an easy choice. Compared to the alternatives the $2500.00 for the bike was a bargain from where I sit – be all paid for in less than a year. In 6 months I’ve logged over 2000 miles and I expect to get 10-15000+ miles.

    There are problems with e-bikes. While I’m not the fastest biker out there I am on average faster than most and this bike is a beast on the hills and I pass everyone – usually I’m forced into traffic if there’s bike lane. Acceleration from a standing start is quite rapid and it does not take long or far to get to 15-23 MPH (the bike is limited to 20MPH without pedaling). So far I’ve been right hooked once in part because the driver, who knew I was there, did not expect me to go so far so fast and I got clobbered.

    I pack a GoPro and our media guy did a video:


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    • MaxD March 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      That video highlights the exact issue I have questions about: E-bikes seem like an overall positive think from a transportation perspective EXCEPT that they are a hybrid between motorized and non-motorized vehicles. So, where do they go? Our bike lanes and MUPs are already frequently crowded and there are existing conflicts between pedestrians/cyclists and between cyclists riding at different speeds. Granted, there are not many problems, but there are enough that I witness something about once a month (and I have been on either end of this, ie I have passed someone too close/fast for their comfort, and I have been passed to fast/close for my comfort). If the promise of e-bikes ushering a new wave of riders, all being capable of shooting up hills at 20 mph, then how does our infrastructure and our formal/informal codes of conduct need to evolve? The video shows an e-bike flying past other bikes on the right, cruising past lines of cars, etc.

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  • PedalPedal March 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Now that powered bicycles are being tolerated on bike paths, where can a regular biker go to get away from motorized traffic?

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    • jsmith March 19, 2014 at 10:53 am

      to the past

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      • PedalPedal March 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

        …where this exact same conversation was occurring with moped riders.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu March 20, 2014 at 8:51 am

    In my view, on terrain where e-bikes are moving much faster than regular (non-e) bikes – hills mainly – e-bikes should stay out of crowded bike lanes, while still being free to use the bike lanes when they are not crowded. I don’t see this as a major issue; bike lanes tend not to be crowded in hilly areas simply because there are fewer cyclists on those roads.

    On the flats, an e-bike at 20 mph isn’t going any faster than a non-e bike with a strong rider, so in my opinion they should be free to use the bike lanes whhile showing the same courtesy as faster riders should show when passing slower riders – give plenty of room when passing, if necessary by nipping out to the traffic lane.

    To date, I consider this mostly a “theoretical” issue. I bike commute daily on the Eastside and have not had any notable experiences with e-bikes.

    If we ever get to the point where there are many, many e-bikes zipping around at 20 mph, maybe there will be a “real” issue. At that point, I’d say turn the speed governors up to 25 mph and require e-bikes to stay in traffic lanes when on the juice.

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